By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

President of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club Erika Feresten gave an opening speech for presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at a Santa Monica High School rally on Friday, July 26.

Feresten, who is a delegate to the California Democratic Party for Assembly District 50, seemed destined for politics as her opening statements on healthcare reform gained noticeable cheers from the thousands in attendance.

“People in America are needlessly suffering,” Feresten said at Friday’s rally. “The private health insurance model diverts money from healthcare to Wall Street and it is failing us.”

She described the broken system that Sanders has pledged to fix by way of a universal healthcare system funded by increased taxes on “extreme wealth.” The government-run health plan would notably cover hospital visits, primary care, medical devices, lab services, maternity care, prescription drugs, and vision and dental benefits, according to a proposal released by the campaign.

While none of the Democratic Clubs involved in hosting Sanders have endorsed him yet, Feresten made her support for the Vermont senator very clear.

“A vote for Bernie Sanders means no more pharma rip-offs, no more soaring hospital bills and no more restrictive networks,” Feresten said. “A president Bernie Sanders means healthcare justice for all.”

Erika Feresten

The 2016 Bernie delegate wants to change an industry where large corporations “ration out” services to meet their “bottom lines,” and criticized a political climate where 2020 hopefuls have adopted amended versions of Sanders’ healthcare proposal that was deemed “radical” in the 2016 election.

“Their proposals merely tinker around the edges with incremental reforms that don’t solve our problems and keep the insurance industries profit motive in play,” she said.

Sanders took the stage asking Santa Monicans and Palisadians in attendance for their help in winning the primary in California, which has emerged as a rare battleground state among Democrats and in putting an end to the Trump administration.

“I think it is a fair statement to make that the Democratic candidate who wins California will win the Democratic nomination, and with your help, let’s do it,” Sanders said. “Together we will put an end once and for all to the racism, to the sexism, to the homophobia, to the xenophobia and religious bigotry which permeates [the Trump] administration.”

On Tuesday, July 30, the presidential race took its next step as the second democratic debate took place in Detroit, Michigan.

“I welcome any challenge they could possibly throw at Sanders because he’s solid, he’s true and he can handle it,” Feresten said in an interview with the Palisadian-Post.  “I’m not looking for anything except for Senator Sanders to be the person who he’s been … a champion of the people.”